Outlook 2013 and IMAP Sent folder

Last reviewed on December 30, 2013

As more people try Office 2013, I'm seeing more complaints and confusion about Outlook 2013's handling of IMAP sent folders.

I upgraded from Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2013. Is it true that "Saving Sent Messages" on the server is no longer possible with IMAP servers? If not, where are my "Sent Messages"? When I look at a conversation, sent messages show up and Outlook shows that it's in the "sent" folder but I can't find it in my Sent folder.

As I mentioned in an Outlook Tip, Outlook 2013 gets the Sent Items folder from the server using the XLIST command and falls back to the local Sent Items folder if the IMAP server does not support XLIST. Users can no longer select a sent folder to use.

How this works: when you set up the account, Outlook "talks" to the IMAP server, "asking" what the server supports. If the server supports XLIST, it responds with the folder that should be used for Sent items. If the server does not use XLIST, Outlook 2013 uses the local Sent items folder. If you want to use a different folder, you need to rules to move the sent item.

For example, when Outlook 2013 connects to GMail, GMail responds with this:


Then Outlook gets the folder list:

[tx] md83 XLIST "" "*"
[db] OnNotify: asOld = 5, asNew = 5, ae = 3
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren \Inbox) "/" "Inbox"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren) "/" "Junk E-mail"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren) "/" "Outlook Users"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren) "/" "Tips"
[rx] * XLIST (\Noselect \HasChildren) "/" "[Gmail]"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren \AllMail) "/" "[Gmail]/All Mail"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren \Drafts) "/" "[Gmail]/Drafts"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasNoChildren \Important) "/" "[Gmail]/Important"
[rx] * XLIST (\HasChildren \HasNoChildren \Sent) "/" "[Gmail]/Sent Mail"

Find the Sent folder

If you can't find the sent folder but see the sent items when you use the conversation view, you can use the macro at Folder: Get the path to identify the folder path. Simply select a sent message in a conversation and run the macro. A message box will show you the path (in \\alias@domain.com\Inbox\Sent format) and you can click the button to switch to it.

If you switch to the Folder list (Ctrl+6) after letting the macro take you to the folder, it will be expanded so you can see where it is in relation to the other folders.

Choose the sent folder before sendingFolders marked with "(This computer only)" are stored in the local data file. They are not uploaded to the server.

When you create an Outlook 2013 profile that contains only an IMAP account, your calendar, contacts, notes, and tasks will be stored in the IMAP data file (*.ost). These folders are marked with (This computer only) for easy identification. If your IMAP data file includes folders marked (This computer only) and you want to keep the contents, you need to export those folders to a pst file before removing the IMAP account from your profile.

In Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010, IMAP users choose the Sent Items folder but it only uses the designated folder when you start the message in Outlook. If you have an IMAP account and use a File, Send by email command in other applications, the sent message is stored in the local Sent Items folder, not in the IMAP account's designated Sent Items folder.

I use the "Send using email" feature many programs have, for ease and speed of use. However when I do this the sent email is saved to the Outlook data file and not the sent items folder in the IMAP account. I would like all sent item to appear in the sent items file from the address i sent it from.

This happens because the Send email commands in other applications use Simple MAPI and it calls up the new messages using a method that hooks into Outlook in a way that prevents it from using the designated Sent Items folder.

Note: Outlook 2013 gets the Sent Items folder from the XLIST command and falls back to the local Sent Items folder if the IMAP server does not support XLIST. All messages should use the same Sent Items folder, irregardless of how you started the message.

You can use these methods with Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2003 and earlier to save IMAP sent items on the IMAP server.

You have three options when you use the Send email command in other applications:

1. Select the Save Sent Item To folder before sending the message.

Before sending, switch to the Options tab, expand the Save Sent Item to button and select Use Default Folder.

Choose the sent folder

In older versions of Outlook, this option is on the Options dialog.

2. Move the sent messages later.

After you send the message, go to the Sent Items folder and drag the item to the correct Sent folder. You can do this at the end of the day, rather than each time you send a message.

3. Use a macro to watch for new items in the Sent folder and move them to the correct folder.

Use the macro at Use a macro to move IMAP account sent items to move the message as it's added to the local sent items folder. You'll need to the use GetFolderPath function since the sent items folder is in a different data file.

You can also use an "after sending" rule to move sent items, however, the sent items will be marked unread. While I have a VBA code sample that marks the message read, you should use the move sent macro linked above, except when you need to use rules for more complicated filters.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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